7 dead as Pakistan security forces raid militant hideouts in north-west

Paramilitary soldiers patrol near the school which was attacked by Taleban gunmen in Peshawar on Dec 19, 2014.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Paramilitary soldiers patrol near the school which was attacked by Taleban gunmen in Peshawar on Dec 19, 2014.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - Seven people, including a policeman and paramilitary soldier, were killed in two separate incidents when Pakistani security forces hit militant hideouts in the restive north-west on Saturday morning, officials said.

In the first incident, the police and paramilitary soldiers raided suspected hideouts in the Mechani neighbourhood of Shabqadar, a town around 30km north of Peshawar.

"A soldier of the Frontier Corps and a policeman embraced martyrdom in an exchange of fire with militants in Mechani neighbourhood of Shabqadar Saturday morning," local police official Wilayat Khan told AFP.

He said two militants belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the militant organisation that carried out Tuesday's massacre at a military-run school in Peshawar - the deadliest ever attack in Pakistan - were also killed.

Rasheed Khan, another senior official confirmed the incident. He said the militants opened fire when the police and paramilitary troops raided their hideouts.

In another incident, five members of the TTP, including a local commander, were killed.

"Five members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed in a raid on their hideout in Gujjar Gadi neighbourhood of Matni, around 16 miles south of Peshawar," a senior security official told AFP.

The incident was confirmed by other local intelligence sources.

The army has been waging a major offensive against longstanding Taleban and other militant strongholds in the restive tribal areas on the Afghan border for the last six months.

But a series of fresh strikes after Tuesday's Peshawar attack, which left 149 people dead - most of them children, suggest the military is stepping up its campaign.

As the Peshawar tragedy unfolded, army chief General Raheel Sharif said the attack had renewed the forces' determination to push for the militants' "final elimination".